What is a Request for Proposal (RFP)?

The most common instrument for organizing and conducting a grant competition is a Request for Proposals, or RFP. An RFP is an invitation to submit a proposal, which a grantmaker may issue broadly or in a targeted fashion to those working in a particular field. RFPs and competitions usually go hand-in-hand. But they are not identical or inseparable. RFPs are a way of bringing proposals in; competitions are a way of selecting among proposals once they arrive. An RFP is a tool that helps a grantmaker to take the initiative in seeking proposals, rather than just reacting to what comes in. RFPs typically establish the ground rules for a competition and create a roster of competitors by inviting more submissions than are ultimately funded. Some grantmakers like to use an RFP to be sure they’re attracting just the type of proposals they want — even if they plan to fund all of the proposals, or to award grants in ways that aren’t strictly competitive. In those situations, the RFP can simply be an effective mechanism for standardizing proposals.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Using Competitions & RFPs.